Poundmaker Exoneration Ceremony, May 2019

Poundmaker Cree Nation’s poster about the Exoneration Event: Contact 306-398-4971; web: www.poundmakercn.ca

Let’s honour him by remembering his name in Cree: pîhtokahânapiwiyin (literally,  “he who sits at the [buffalo] pound”).

Deep respect and congratulations to everyone at Poundmaker Cree Nation who has helped make this happen by petitioning for the exoneration of this epic Cree hero, particularly Headman Milton Tootoosis. Even though the date of the celebration had to be changed to accommodate Ottawa’s schedule, 23 May 2019 will mark one of the most significant events in Cree history.

Poundmaker spoke through an interpreter at his 1885 trial. He is quoted as saying, “Everything I could do was done to stop bloodshed,” “Had I wanted war, I would not be here now. I should be on the prairie. You did not catch me. I gave myself up. You have got me because I wanted justice.”

CBC’s version of the story:

The Globe and Mail described some of the path to exoneration in December 2017: https://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/alberta/chief-poundmaker-the-peacemaker-inside-the-quest-to-pardon-a-canadian-historical-figure/article37281139/

Looking for a reminder of the story of this remarkable Cree leader? Here’s a link to Hugh Dempsey’s biography from the Canadian Encyclopedia. As it notes, exoneration is equally deserved by Mistahimaskwa (Big Bear) and Kapeyakwaskonam (One Arrow), who were also convicted of treason, despite having not participated in the rebellion. Perhaps now it’s time to speak for them as well. 

About Arden Ogg

Arden Ogg is Director of the Cree Literacy Network, launched in 2010 with the goal of creating Cree language literacy materials suitable for use by learners of all ages.
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